Arbor Day activities on hold

Sustainable Delran and the Green Team will plant three trees this week in public parks, but scheduled giveaways have been postponed.

Erica DeMichele of the Delran School District at Millbridge School’s Arbor Day celebration in 2019. This year’s event had to be put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic, but Delran’s Green Team remains focused on planting trees in town this spring. (Special to The Sun)

More than half a century ago, William Arnold dutifully kept up with the  garden outside his home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and his 12-year-old grandson, Al Carp, took notice. A hobby was born.

Carp is now 70 and in his third year with the Delran Green Team, a group formed a half dozen years ago with the goal of sustainability. The month of April is always a busy and enjoyable time of the year for Carp and the team.

Like everyone else in and outside of Delran, this month has thrown the team a curveball.

The events planned by Sustainable Delran and the Delran Green Team for Earth Day (Wednesday, April 22) and Arbor Day (Friday, April 24) have been postponed or altered drastically as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. From community cleanups to tree giveaways and elementary school programs, plans have had to be scratched or adjusted for what is normally a time of the year to celebrate.

“This is our greatest time … It’s very disappointing,” Carp said. “Everything is up in the air right now.”

Carp had ordered 750 trees for the Green Team’s annual giveaway. And he had expected more than 500 people out for the cleanup program throughout the town’s parks.

Despite having to put a lot of plans on hold, Carp is informing people that they can still do their part, on their own in their own homes and gardens, to celebrate Arbor Day.

“We would like people to realize that, in this pandemic, people are still able to get outside and plant some things for this growing season,” he said. “Whether it’s trees or plants or vegetables or shrubs, just to get outside and use the time that you have to get something in the ground.”

After a successful first year at Delran Intermediate School last spring, when third graders were given free trees, the second of what they hope is an annual event will have to wait until 2021. Another tree giveaway is on hold; Carp and company are waiting to hear from the state so they can still distribute the trees to the public at some point this year.

But not everything will have to wait for the pandemic to subside. Sustainable Delran and the Delran Green Team will still do their part on Arbor Day, with the help of public works, by planting three trees in Notre Dame and Brown Street parks.

“What would have been our Arbor Day celebration, of course no one can attend,” Carp said with a laugh. “(Public works will) dig the holes for us and we’ll put the trees in the ground and plant them. And hopefully we’ll hold something later on when we’re all able to get together.”

Until then, Carp will be grateful to do his part, even without a crowd.

“When I found out about the Green Team, it was like a gift,” he said. “I’ve been doing this since I was a kid.”

Al Carp of Delran’s Green Team giving out seedlings to residents at Conrow Par during sunnier days in town. This month’s Arbor Day events were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Sustainable Delran were still planning to plant trees at parks while following local government rules this week. (Special to the Sun)